For a while now, in my Bible study, I have been studying about Jesus as the good shepherd. While that may not really remind most people in our family of my husband’s grandpa, Robert Knox, it does remind me of him. Jesus’ stories about how a good shepherd would do what it takes to keep his flock of sheep safe, are really true of any “good” shepherd. The whole job of a shepherd is to fight off the coyote, mountain lion, bear, or any other predator that might harm or even kill the sheep. In Biblical times, and maybe even to this day, the shepherd is often the only one with the sheep, because as we all know, sheep are a fairly docile animal. Predators…however, are definitely not docile. They are ravenously hungry, and you, the shepherd, are the only thing that lies between them and their next meal. That puts you, the shepherd…in the way.

At this point, you might be wondering how that applies to Grandpa Knox, but it does. Grandpa was a shepherd for a time in his working days, and he had an even bigger reason to keep predators away from his flock. While many shepherds were along with their flock, Grandpa was not. He had his wife, Nettie and their three-year-old daughter, Joann Knox (Schulenberg) with him, and it was his most important job to keep them safe. I can’t say that he ever wrestled a coyote, mountain lion, or bear, but it’s possible that he had to kill a few with a gun.

Grandpa Knox did not really seem the type to be a mighty hunter or killer of predators, but I suppose he would have had to become that in the event of a situation. The Grandpa Knox I met when I joined this family was more the gardener type. Grandpa spent much of his summer hours tending the garden on my in-laws place that provided our family with lots of great vegetables. I thought that the biggest predator Grandpa handled was a stray cow or maybe a hungry bunny rabbit. I suppose he did handle those too, but once upon a time, he protected the sheep in his flock, just like the stories Jesus told us about the shepherd and the predator. Today is the 113th anniversary of Grandpa Knox’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa Knox!! We love and miss you very much!!

I think most of us have heard of the famous British poet and politician, Lord George Gordon Byron, who took his education at Trinity College in Cambridge…a college that boasts famous alumni, Prince Charles, Sir Isaac Newton, Lord Tennyson, King Edward VII, and King George VI, among many others. Lord Byron was well known for his romantic poetry, but he was also a rebel and would probably be considered a scoundrel.

Trinity College has a strict rule for it’s attendees. No dogs were allowed to be kept in the dormitory, a rule that seriously upset Lord Byron, who had a dog that he really loved and wanted to bring to college with him. Most college campuses do not allow their residents to have pets, other than non-predatory fish, in the on-campus dorms. This is something most college students do not like or agree with, so Lord Byron was not alone in his annoyance. Lord Byron took things to a bit of the extreme, however, when it came to his rebellion, and I really don’t see how he got away with what he did. Lord Byron was known for being an avid animal lover, and when the college refused to allow him to bring his dog, he retaliated by bringing a pet bear in his dormitory!! I have no idea why the school didn’t put a stop to that, but they didn’t. He was even known to take it on walks with a leash!!

I have no idea why he wanted a bear, but if you think this is just a rumor, you are wrong. Lord Byron did indeed keep a pet bear, and not simply because he wanted to or he admired the strength of bears. He had a kind of symbolic or romantic reasoning for doing it. Lord Byron was quite devious, and his reason for having a pet bear at Trinity College was simply one of rebellion. He was known to say, “I have got a new friend, the finest in the world, a tame bear.”

Lord Byron was born in 1788 and throughout his life, he was constantly bucking norms. He had a tumultuous life from a very troubled childhood to being a literary icon by age 20. He was known for his indulgences, affairs, and many pranks which constantly got him in trouble. Nevertheless, even though he was always in the middle of a controversy and known bucking the norms, he also had a soft side for animals. In fact, he was a lifelong animal lover and kept countless dogs and cats throughout his troubled childhood. He even dabbled in exotic animals throughout his life like a monkey, a fox, peacocks, badgers, and a crocodile…and don’t forget the bear. Still, the pet he loved the most was his Newfoundland dog Boatswain? who died in 1808 from rabies. He loved the dog so much he wrote a poem dedicated to him entitled ?”Epitaph to a Dog?” and he even requested to be buried beside Boatswain in his will.

It seems that while Lord Byron was a poet by trade, he could have been a pretty good attorney…if the argument was something he cared about. The dog he had wanted to bring to Trinity College was a bulldog named Smut. As I said, he had a lot of pets. Since the college wouldn’t let him do as he chose, he went looking for loophole. It didn’t take him long to find what he was looking for…that there was no rule against having a tamed pet bear to the campus. So Byron argued with the college officials that he had every legal right to bring the bear. I don’t know if he was shocked, but I would be. Maybe the figured he was bluffing and didn’t really have a pet bear. If that was the case, they were very wrong, because he did, and he willingly produced it.

No one really knows where Lord Byron got the bear or what its name was, but he walked the bear on a chain as if it were a dog and would talk to it the way people talk to their pets. It was said that he allegedly wanted to have the bear apply as a student at the college since there were also no rules explicitly saying that bears cannot be students, but this may have been an example of Lord Byron’s sense of humor…or maybe he didn’t want to pay the tuition for a “student” who would not study or have any chance at passing. When he left school, he took the bear with him to London where it was free to roam the estate grounds. It was joined at the estate by Byron’s other pet…a wolf. Wow…just wow!!

Shirley CameronShirley's front yardMy cousin, Shirley Cameron lives on the top of a mountain in Washington state. It was a beautiful, rugged, tree filled area, that is quiet and peaceful. She raises chickens and ducks, for their eggs, and gardens in the summer months. She loves to can food, and make jellies and jams of all kinds of unique flavors…and believe me, they are wonderful. In the summer months, there are bears in the area, which I think would bother me a bit, but Shirley is used to it, so she just knows how to stay calm and wait them out. She has lived on this mountain top for many years now, as did her parents before their passing. The place might be a bit wild by city dwellers standards, but for Shirley it is home, and I don’t know if she could really ever see herself living anywhere else now.

Peonies in front of the house There was a time, however, when Shirley lived in the very populated areas of Reno, Nevada and Vallejo, California, which is possibly the main reason she lives where she does now. Too many people in one area can drive you crazy, and then the best solution is for find peace in the general solitude of a mountain top. Now don’t get me wrong, Shirley isn’t a recluse. She enjoys being with people, getting online and connecting via Facebook, and even going into town and meeting up with friends, but when she goes home, it is to her beloved mountain. In many ways, I think it is there that Shirley feels the closest to her parents. They loved the mountain top too, and in fact, at one time the whole family lived up there on separate places. It was their little slice of Heaven on Earth. And it is where Shirley still loves to be, because of its quiet, peaceful beauty.

Shirley loves to take photographs of the different wildlife in the area. I have deer that come into my yard on occasion, but Shirley sees moose in her yard, and bald eagles in the trees. There are fox, deer, and every other EagleCow Moose In Shirley's Yardanimal imaginable too. I can see why she likes it there…in the summer anyway. And then there are the flowers. Wild flowers are everywhere, of course, but Shirley has a green thumb…unlike her cousin, aka me. She is able to grow not only a vegetable garden, but beautiful flower gardens as well. Her pictures of Iris and Peonies are stunning. While country life is not really what I want anymore, I still think it would be very inspirational to sit a while in her yard. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! You are an amazing woman. Have a great day!! We love you!!

ChrisimageMy brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock has always been a man of many talents. He has always had a love of the outdoors, and one day took up the art of chain saw carving. I’m sure that many of you have seen those carvings in different places around the country. I have to say that it must take a lot of vision, because not everyone can look at a log and see a bear hidden inside its bark, and even if they could, very few people could pick up a chainsaw and carve out that bear they saw inside that log. Now, I have to tell you that while I might be able to envision a bear coming out of a tree trunk, I could not coax it to come out…especially with a chain saw, but my brother-in-law can…in just a few minutes. That has been amazing to me, since he started chain saw carving. How does one simply pick up that craft? He took no classes, he just did it!

A few years ago, my mom had a tree that had broken in a storm. As we were cleaning up her yard, Chris walked up to a tree, and I thought at first that he was just cutting the dead tree down, but he stopped short of completely cutting it dawn, and as we watched, his saw worked back and forth, creating a cute little bear cub standing on top of a dead tree trunk. It was amazing to watch. The whole thing took him maybe 15 minutes. My mom was thrilled. She had seen those around, but never purchased one, and in reality, she wanted one. Suddenly, there it was standing proudly in her back yard. It couldn’t get stolen or lost, because it was rooted in deep in the ground. All she had to do was go out on her deck in the back yard, and there was her little bear.

Chris is a dedicated family man, and his two newest little joys are his grandchildren. Much time is spent with Ethan and Aurora, as well as their parents and aunts and uncles. They love to go up on the mountain to their place up there. There will eventually be a cabin there, Beary Niceimagecomplete with several chain saw bears, I’m sure. And their house is also graced with these Beary Nice friends, and his two little grandchildren just had to have their picture taken with the most un-scary bear they know. Chris’ life is a very happy one that will only grow more happy as new little grandchildren arrive…and maybe a few new bears too. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Raymon DunaheeTravel these days is so common that we really don’t give it much thought at all, but travel or moving in days gone by, was a very different matter, or perhaps it is just that some things worry people of different ages more that other people, or shall we say older people. I was reading a story written by my cousin Raymon Dunahee, who is my Grandpa Spencer’s sister, Alice’s son. The story begins, “I slept soundly (I guess we all did) all night and woke up the next morning to find that I was still all there. If anything had carried us off during the night they brought us back before morning.” When I read that, it reminded me of some of the camping trips my family took when we were kids, and my sisters and I kept waking my dad up so he could put another log on the fire to keep the bears away…like that would have made any difference. As I read through the thoughts of a little boy as he embarked of an unknown, and maybe a little scary future, my thoughts turned to how different travel was back then.

As I read through the rest of his story, and the continuing mishaps they had, I could see why he felt a little apprehensive about things. The vehicle they were traveling in had a couple of “bum casings” and he was concerned that if the roads got bad at all they might end up stuck in a very desolate place. They were trying to make Kalispell, Montana that day, and they still had a hundred and twenty five miles to go. They were in the mountains when the rear tire blew. The spare was not good either, so they limped along the six miles to the next town and got a new tire. It was another forty miles to Kalispell, but they made it without further mishap and bought another tire there. The trip to Kalispell was a side trip to visit his grandparents before they went on to their final destination…Twin Falls, Idaho. During the visit with his grandparents, they decided to go on to Twin Falls, Idaho with them. The rest of the trip was filled with similar troubles and I’m sure that Raymon wondered if they would make it at all, and if he even wanted to go to this place when it seemed that everything was against their move as it was.

Then, to add to Raymon’s concerns, their trip started to become very slow going…not because of car problems, but because of fish problems. It’s hard to imagine that fish could cause such big problems, but they can for a boy who is really ready to get where they are going. It seems that over the next three days, they family only made twelve miles!! “How could that be?” you ask. Well, they were traveling in an area where there were lots of mountain streams, and every time they came upon another stream, the men wanted to stop and fish!! I don’t think they caught very many fish, but according to Raymon, there were plenty of mosquitoes, and he was really ready to be away from them. I’m sure he was thinking, “Let’s just go!!” And there was no reason to even ask, “Are we there yet?” because you have to be moving for that question to even make sense. In the end, they did make it to Twin Falls, Idaho, where they lived out their days.

Hate that tieEaston is like most little boys. He hates the whole dressing up thing that many parents are always wanting their kids to do. In fact, if he could figure out a way to get out of ever dressing up, he would do it. I think most men would have a tendency to agree with Easton…especially when it comes to wearing a tie. They just hate that tie. It chokes them, and if they are at all claustrophobic, it can make them feel like the walls are closing in. And for a little boy, it is even worse. I suppose it could be likened to sitting in a corner, or time out. In fact, time out probably says it all, because just as soon as they dare, little boys are asking, “Can I please take this tie off??” That is, if they ask to take it off at all.

Easton had finally had enough, and so he untucked his shirt and loosened his tie. He hoped that his mom wouldn’t notice, and in the end, his hopes were realized. His mom, my niece, Machelle took the picture without even noticing the tie was loosened and the shirt untucked. It was Easton’s Aunt Susan who would notice the sneaky maneuver her nephew had pulled off. By that time, there was nothing left to do but laugh at the fact the Easton had won…that battle anyway.

Now, if you were to put Easton, and most other little boys, in a different situation, you would find that they are totally comfortable. That situation would be, of course, camping. There is nothing better, in the mind of a little boy, than the adventures you can Camp boyshave while camping in the wilderness. All sorts of things can happen out there, and everyone will need a hero to save them from whatever danger might lurk just outside of the eye view of the camp. There could be wolves, bears, snakes, and many other such wild animals, but their moms can relax, because these boys will save them from that. They are big tough campers, and everyone knows that any self respecting wolf or bear, or even snake, would run from them. And that is the main reason why moms must understand that real boys, hate that tie. They are simply too macho for their tie!!

Today is Easton’s 9th birthday. Easton, I hope you don’t have to wear that horrible tie!! I mean, really Machelle, get a clue!! Real boys are too macho for a tie!! Happy birthday Easton!! Have a great, tieless day!! We love you!!

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